Sun shines for Oracle in Europe

Oracle has won unconditional European Union approval for its $7 billion takeover of Sun Microsystems, a month after offering public pledges to sooth regulatory concerns. The Commission’s decision averts a split with the U.S. Department of Justice, which approved the deal in August. While authorities in China and Russia have yet to approve the deal, it is still seen reshaping the high-tech landscape, with Oracle, the world’s No. 2 business software maker, moving into the hardware business. Sun is the top player in the $17 billion high-end computer-server market.

Oracle’s play-nice promise in December to keep the market open for others to make storage engine software for Sun’s MySQL database and to boost investment in the unit came after the European Commission launched an in-depth investigation of the deal. Oracle also pledged to set up a separate customer advisory board of MySQL users.

Florian Mueller, a spokesman for the founder of MySQL, Michael Widenius, who is strongly opposed to the deal, said the European Union executive’s decision was wrong. “It’s not based on hard facts… It should not serve as the basis for decisions taken by other regulators because it would set an awful precedent for merger control in connection with open source and a variety of other IT business models,” he said. Opponents could yet challenge the deal in court, but with both the U.S. and EU now giving it their blessing, they might want to petition a court further east.

Deals du Jour

A Sun Microsystems sign is pictured at the company's headquarters in Santa Clara, California in this March 18, 2009 file photo.

Oracle Corp’s (ORCL.O) acquisition of Sun Microsystems Inc. (JAVA.O) could be delayed by up to four months if the European Commission’s antitrust authority decide to launch an investigation into the $7.4bn deal. US authorities cleared the sale last week, but the EC is concerned over Oracle gaining ownership of the MySQL database product, sources familiar with the situation tell Reuters.

For this and the rest of the latest deals news from Reuters, click here.

And here’s a round-up of other deals news reported in the press on Wednesday:

* The Cosmen-CVC Capital Partners consortium bidding for bus and train operator National Express (NEX.L) is looking for ways to make its offer more attractive, the Financial Times said.